A xenobiotic (Gk xenos “stranger”) is acompound that is foreign to the body.
BIOMEDICAL IMPORTANCEIncreasingly, humans are subjected to exposure to variousforeign chemicals (xenobiotics)—drugs, food additives,pollutants, etc.
Knowledge of the metabolism of xenobiotics is basic toa rational understanding of pharmacology andtherapeutics, pharmacy, toxicology, management ofcancer, and drug addiction. All these areas involveadministration of, or exposure to, xenobiotics.
xenobiotics• drugs• chemical carcinogens• insecticides• various compounds that have found their way into our environment by one route or another• polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)• More than 200,000 manufactured environmental chemicals
• Most of these compounds are subject to metabolism (chemical alteration) in the human body• with the liver being the main organ involved;• occasionally a xenobiotic may be excreted unchanged.• 30 different enzymes catalyze reactions involved in xenobiotic metabolism
It is convenient to consider the metabolism of xenobiotics in two phases
phase 1 1. Hydroxylation Monooxygenases or cytochrome P450s. Hydroxylation may terminate the action of a drug 2. deamination, dehalogenation, desulfuration, epoxidation, peroxygenation, and reduction, hydrolysis.
Phase 2 conjugation with glucuronic acid, sulfate, acetate, glutathione, or certain amino acids, or by methylation.
The overall purpose of the two phases ofmetabolism of xenobiotics is to increase theirwater solubility (polarity) and thus excretionfrom the body
Very hydrophobic xenobiotics would persistin adipose tissue almost indefinitely if theywere not converted to more polar forms.
In certain cases, phase 1 metabolic reactions convert xenobiotics from inactive to biologicallyactive compounds. In these instances, the original xenobiotics are referred to as “prodrugs” or “procarcinogens.”
The term “detoxification” is sometimes used formany of the reactions involved in the metabolism of xenobiotics.
ISOFORMS OF CYTOCHROME P450 HYDROXYLATE A MYRIAD OF XENOBIOTICS IN PHASE 1 OF THEIR METABOLISM
• Hydroxylation is the chief reaction involved• The responsible enzymes are called monooxygenases or cytochrome P450s;• The human genome encodes at least 14 families of these enzymes.
• The reaction catalyzed by a monooxygenase (cytochrome P450) is as follows:
It has been shown by the use of O2 that one atom ofoxygen enters ROH and one atom enters water. Thisdual fate of the oxygen accounts for the formernaming of monooxygenases as “mixed functionoxidases.”
approximately 50% of the drugs humansingest are metabolized by isoforms ofcytochrome P450; these enzymes also act onvarious carcinogens and pollutants.
Cytochrome P450• large number of isoforms (about 150) that have been discovered, it became important to have a systematic nomenclature for isoforms of P450 and for their genes.• Example : CYP1A1 denotes a cytochrome P450 that is a member of family 1 and subfamily A and is the first individual member of that subfamily
• The nomenclature for the genes encoding cytochrome P450s is identical to that described except that italics are used; thus, the gene encoding CYP1A1 is CYP1A1.• They are hemoproteins• They are widely distributed across species. Bacteria possess cytochrome P450s, and P450cam
• They are present in highest amount in liver and small intestine but are probably present in all tissues.• In liver and most other tissues, they are present mainly in the membranes of the smooth endoplasmic reticulum
• In the adrenal, they are found in mitochondria as well as in the endoplasmic reticulum;• The various hydroxylases present in that organ play an important role in cholesterol and steroid biosynthesis
• At least six isoforms of cytochrome P450 are present in the endoplasmic reticulum of human liver,• each with wide and somewhat overlapping substrate specificities and acting on both xenobiotics and endogenous compounds.
• NADPH, not NADH, is involved in the reaction mechanism of cytochrome P450.• The enzyme that uses NADPH to yield the reduced cytochrome P450, called NADPH- cytochrome P450 reductase.
• Lipids are also components of the cytochrome P450 system.• The preferred lipid is phosphatidylcholine, which is the major lipid found in membranes of the endoplasmic reticulum
• Most isoforms of cytochrome P450 are inducible.• Induction of cytochrome P450 has important clinical implications, since it is a biochemical mechanism of drug interaction.
As an illustration:Patient is taking the anticoagulant warfarin to preventblood clotting.This drug is metabolized by CYP2C9.Concomitantly, the patient is started on phenobarbital(an inducer of this P450) to treat a certain type ofepilepsy, but thedose of warfarin is not changed.
After 5 days or so, the level of CYP2C9 in thepatient’s liver will be elevated three- to fourfold.This in turn means that warfarin will be metabolizedmuch more quickly than before, and its dosage willhave become inadequate. Therefore, thedose must be increased if warfarin is to betherapeutically effective.
To pursue this example further, a problem could arise lateron if the phenobarbital is discontinued but the increaseddosage of warfarin stays the same.The patient will be at risk of bleeding, since the high dose ofwarfarin will be even more active than before, because thelevel of CYP2C9 will decline once phenobarbital has beenstopped.
• P450 metabolizes certain widely used solvents and also components found in tobacco smoke, many of which are established carcinogens.
Certain isoforms of cytochrome P450 (eg, CYP1A1) areparticularly involved in the metabolism of polycyclicaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and relatedmolecules;for this reason they were formerly called aromatichydrocarbon hydroxylases (AHHs). This enzyme isimportant in the metabolism of PAHs and incarcinogenesis produced by these agents.
Certain cytochrome P450s exist in polymorphic forms(genetic isoforms), some of which exhibit low catalyticactivity.One P450 exhibiting polymorphism is CYP2D6, whichis involved in the metabolism of debrisoquin (an antihypertensive drug) and sparteine (an anti arrhythmicand oxytocic drug).
Another interesting polymorphism is that of CYP2A6, which is involved in themetabolism of nicotine to conitine. Three CYP2A6 alleles have been identified: awild type and two null or inactive alleles.It has been reported that individuals with the null alleles, who have impairedmetabolism of nicotine, are apparently protected against becoming tobacco-dependent smokersThese individuals smoke less, presumably because their blood and brainconcentrations of nicotine remain elevated longer than those of individuals withthe wild-type allele. It has been speculated that inhibiting CYP2A6 may be anovel way to help prevent and to treat smoking.
In phase 1 reactions, xenobiotics are generally converted tomore polar, hydroxylated derivatives. In phase 2reactions, these derivatives are conjugated with moleculessuch as glucuronic acid, sulfate, or glutathione.This renders them even more water-soluble, and they areeventually excreted in the urine or bile.
UDP-glucuronic acid is the glucuronyl donor, and a varietyof glucuronosyltransferases, present in both theendoplasmic reticulum and cytosol, are the catalysts.Molecules such as 2-acetylaminofluorene (acarcinogen), aniline, benzoic acid, meprobamate (atranquilizer), phenol, and many steroids are excreted asglucuronides.
The glucuronide may be attached to oxygen,nitrogen, or sulfur groups of the substrates.Glucuronidation is probably the most frequentconjugation reaction.
B. SULFATION Some alcohols, arylamines, and phenols are sulfated. The sulfate donor in these and other biologic sulfation reactions (eg, sulfation of steroids, glycosaminoglycans, glycolipids, and glycoproteins) is adenosine 3-phosphate-5-phosphosulfate (PAPS)
C. CONJUGATION WITH GLUTATHIONEGlutathione (γ-glutamyl-cysteinylglycine) is a tripeptide consisting ofglutamic acid, cysteine, and glycineGlutathione is commonly abbreviated GSH (because of the sulfhydryl groupof its cysteine, which is the business part of the molecule).
A number of potentially toxic electrophilic xenobiotics (such ascertain carcinogens) are conjugated to the nucleophilic GSH inreactions that can be represented as follows:
The enzymes catalyzing these reactions are called glutathione S transferases and are present in high amounts in liver cytosol and in lower amounts in other tissues.If the potentially toxic xenobiotics were not conjugated to GSH, theywould be free to combine covalently with DNA, RNA, or cell protein andcould thus lead to serious cell damage
The glutamyl and glycinyl groups belonging to glutathione areremoved by specific Enzymesacetyl group (donated by acetyl- CoA) is added to the amino groupof the remaining cysteinyl moiety.The resulting compound is a mercapturic acid, a conjugate of Lacetylcysteine, which is then excreted in the urine.
D. OTHER REACTIONS 1. AcetylationThese reactions are catalyzed by acetyltransferases present in the cytosol ofvarious tissues, particularly liver.The drug isoniazid, used in the treatment of tuberculosis, is subject toacetylation.Polymorphic types of acetyltransferases exist, resulting in individuals who areclassified as slow or fast acetylators,
2. MethylationA few xenobiotics are subject to methylation bymethyltransferases, employing S-adenosylmethionine asmethyl donor
Toxic effects of xenobiotics1. cell injury (cytotoxicity)2. the reactive species of a xenobiotic may bind to a protein, altering its antigenicity. The xenobiotic is said to act as a hapten, ie, a small molecule that by itself does not stimulate antibody synthesis but will combine with antibody once formed3. Third, reactions of activated species of chemical carcinogens with DNA are thought to be of great importance in chemical carcinogenesis
epoxide hydrolaseThe enzyme epoxide hydrolase is of interest because it can exert a protectiveeffect against certain carcinogens.The products of the action of certain monooxygenases on some procarcinogensubstrates are epoxides. Epoxides are highly reactive and mutagenic orcarcinogenic or both.Epoxide acts on these compounds, converting them into much less reactivedihydrodiols.